Approach :

  1. Introduction
  2. State the prominent factors that aided in flourishing the Gandhara art in Kushana empire.
  3. Describe the features of Buddha in Gandhara art.

Gandhara, the region around present day Kandahar in modern Afghanistan, was a very important kingdom since the time of Mahajan padas. Although Gautama Buddha never visited this region in the far north-west, his teachings were spread here later and it became a holy land of Buddhism because of –

  • Patronage– Kushan, gave patronage to Gandhara since due to their affinity for their native region- it helped in promoting Buddhism. Rock edicts and stupas were built during Ashoka’s reign, which already sowed the seeds of Buddhism in the regions where Gandhara art flourished.
  • Foreign invasion– by Graeco-Bactrians, Sakas and Parthians. The Golden period of Gandhara was born under the rule of the Kushana kings from 1st to 5th Century AD. It attained its zenith of glory and Mahayana Buddhism flourished after the 4th Buddhist Council under Kanishka.
  • Influence of Silk Route – Due to its proximity on silk route and control of Kanishka over it, Gandhara art was helpful in diffusion of its arts to places like Central Asia, China, with help of traders, foreign visitors, etc.

Gandhara School of art developed during this period from a fusion of Graeco-Roman and Indian style and incorporated Hellenistic forms of art. Grey sandstone was mainly used.

Depiction of the Buddha

  1. Represented in human form – Muscular body, with beard and moustaches, Apollonian faces (like Greek gods), long ear lobes.
  2. Standing and seated statues of Buddha and Boddhisattvas were made, and stone slabs depicted scenes from Buddha’s life.
  3. Great stress was laid on bodily features and beauty.
  4. Buddha was shown using gestures like – abhaya, dhayana, dharmachakra and bhumisparsha mudra.
  5. Curly Hairs with a knot – Ushanisha.
  6. Meditating Buddha, with half closed eyes.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish December 9, 2022